More than 350 people are killed each year in underride trucking accidents. These accidents are made even more horrific by the fact that many could’ve been prevented with sturdy rear-impact guards, adequate rear lighting, and proper reflector strips. Yet even though these types of trucking accidents are often the fault of the trucking company or truck driver, they can be difficult to prove. As such, trucking accident victims need an experienced trucking accident law firm on their side from the very start.
What is an Underride Trucking Accident?
When a large commercial big rig stops suddenly or does not have an adequate rear-impact guard, the smaller passenger vehicle can strike the back of a large semi-truck and slide underneath the rear of the truck. This causes catastrophic and often fatal injures, because the top of the passenger vehicle is often crushed or sheared away in the process. All trucks are required to have rear-impact guards, reflector strips, and adequate lighting in the back of their vehicles to prevent these deadly trucking accidents from occurring. Yet sadly, many do not.
Causes of Underride Trucking Accidents
There are numerous causes of deadly and catastrophic underride trucking accidents, including:
- No rear impact guard on back
- Impact guard on back that is not up to US standards
- No reflective tape on back and sides of truck
- No reflectors on back of truck
- Dirt or mud covered lights or reflectors
- Broken taillights
- Inexperienced truck drivers
- Truck driver distractions
What About Rear-Impact Guards?
Rear-impact guards fastened on the rear of 18-wheelers have, unfortunately, been less effective than anticipated. In one study a medium-sized sedan, going 35 mph was sent crashing into the rear of a semi-truck. The truck had a properly installed and approved underride guard, yet the vehicle still went under the truck, taking the top off the car. Overall, governmental-approved underride bars have failed dismally in their goal of protecting the public. If the underride guards are failing at speeds of 35 mph, imagine what happens in a crash when the passenger vehicle is traveling 55 mph or more.
Interestingly, Canada requires underride guards to be 75% stronger than those in the United States, and, when put to the test, the Canadian-style guard held strong when hit by the same type car at the same speed. Considering it took twenty years for the federal government to implement the underride bar regulations currently in place, you can imagine the limbo that same government is currently locked into as it considers changing the regulations again.
Regulatory gaps exempt some commercial truck from underride bars altogether. Others must have an underride bar installed, but are released from adhering to the 1996 safety standards set forth regarding absorption of energy and strength. While many erroneously believe the driver of the passenger vehicle must be at fault for underride accidents, in fact, the truck driver may have unexpectedly stopped, or could be driving with no rear lighting or safety reflectors. This is a serious danger at nighttime, and as such, the majority of underride accidents occur at night.
Contact Reputable Trucking Accident Lawyers
At Patrick Malone & Associates, our trucking accident lawyers realize how deadly underride truck accidents in the Washington, DC metro area, Virginia, and throughout the State of Maryland can be. We also know that truck drivers and trucking companies are often responsible for these serious and catastrophic accidents. As such, we work diligently from the very start to build a case that is designed to maximize compensation. Call us at 1-202-742-1500 or 1-888-625-6635 or fill out our confidential contact form for a FREE Consultation and review of your case.
The trucking accident attorneys at Patrick Malone & Associates have successfully represented injured individuals in Washington, DC, Arlington, Alexandria, Annapolis, Rockville, Baltimore, Richmond, Fairfax, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and other locations throughout Maryland and Virginia.